Climate deal lacks strategies critical to achieving promised results
It’s easy to be swept-up in the feeling of accomplishment the COP21 agreement promises, especially with the enthusiastic response of the media, politicians, and celebrities involved. Unfortunately, while it is a victory for so many countries to come together and unanimously agree something should be done, this is not the first time such promises have been made.
Much of the coverage has green-washed over this history of failure and this new agreement overrides many, better regional agreements that have stifled the energy sector and backwards-looking governments.
This will be a historic agreement only if it results in actual progress on climate change. However, looking at some of the details of the agreement, there are serious short-comings that activists should be aware of:
- It is not legally binding in any way; - It does not contain enforceability provisions; - It does not include human rights protection language; - It contains industry-derived language that has baffled scientists including the goal to reach “greenhouse gas emissions neutrality”; - It has aspirational goals of limiting temperature increases to 1.5 decrees, but no concrete steps to get there; - It explicitly identifies “carbon capture and storage” technology which does not exist and will likely never exist on the scale needed; - According to scientists and economists, its math around investment doesn’t add up; - It demands the relaxation of regulations and trade rules on private sector investment; - It ignores the important role of publicly owned organizations.
Friends of the Earth International said the following of the deal: “After all the warm words of developed countries on a 1.5C limit, the new text contains no obligation to stay under this threshold. Shockingly, the text could allow for carbon emissions to continue until 2099.”
It seems as though the document was written by liberal governments working to appease highly conservative governments such as Saudi Arabia and India (the world’s largest emitter whose current government is opposed to the elimination of fossil fuels by 2100).
The document intentionally fails to provide the enforceable strategies needed to reach the goals it identifies. Such an approach is common, but to repeat that something needs to be done is not the same as doing it, and depending on for-profit corporations and market mechanisms is a recipe for disaster … literally.
Taxi drivers take to the streets of Toronto again
In Toronto, taxi drivers once again took action to get the attention of city-wide commuters. After months of waiting for Toronto Mayor John Tory to fulfill his continued promises to regulate the industry, drivers are at risk of losing their livelihoods and are justifiably angry. They’re demanding that fairness and sustainability be returned to the industry in the face of illegal actions by unlicensed drivers using UberX and other similar dispatch services.
Drivers are demanding that the fees that the city is charging cabbies be reduced until something is done about the fact that existing regulations are not being enforced and that promised pro-worker regulations have not been implemented.
The situation surrounding taxis in Toronto and other cities is complex, historical, and sometimes confusing. While some may be frustrated with the existing taxi industry, punishing workers and embracing a hyper-capitalistic race to the bottom is not the answer. For those looking to understand this complex situation, there is much to read.
• [[https://cpress.org/leftnews/people-based-economy-at-stake-in-battle-over-uber-like-services-whats-left][People-based economy at stake in battle over Uber-like services | What’s Left]]
15 and Fairness holiday carolers
Last weekend, Toronto activists took to the Eaton Centre shopping mall to spread cheer and information about the fight for living wages and paid sick-leave (among other issues) for workers in Ontario. Banners were dropped, modified Christmas carols were sung, and good times were had as popular support was shown for the workers' demands.
The Republic of Korea arrests trade union leadership
In a sign that South Korea has moved back to its historically repressive ways, Han Sang-gyun, the president of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), was arrested this week.
Han Sang-gyun had taken refuge in a Buddhist Temple since the government called for his arrest following his involvement in union-led mobilizations and strike actions against the government on November 16. The mobilizations were multi-issue and included the opposition of anti-union laws, the betterment of health and safety, and a critique of privatization.
When the police threatened to raid the temple, Han turned himself into the police voluntarily.
Below is a link to Han’s press statement issued on the organization’s Facebook page before his arrest. It addresses the government’s attempt to paint unions as violent criminal organizations and push through anti-union reforms.
Historic advances at risk in US race relations
Conservatives who lead the United States Supreme Court are trying take the country backwards by questioning existing policies on racial integration. Meanwhile, activists across the country continue to demonstrate that existing policies and laws don’t go far enough, and systemic issues of racism continue to poison the actions of federal, state, municipal, and private institutions. In the context of the neo-fascist developments in the Republican Party’s primary race – led by Donald Trump – the current primaries and the next US election will be an important moment for Americans to come together and reject racism, hatred, division, and white supremacy.